Category Archives: Inspirational

You Are Never Alone

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I came across something I’d written a few years back when I was hospitalized with a minor condition.  I’d actually been suffering for a week before I decided to seek a doctor’s attention.  And although my threshold for pain is very high, being admitted to a hospital was daunting.

I remember being scared and alone.  I was newly divorced and living in a rental by myself; my daughters were grown and lived hours away as well as my brother. They had put me on a strong medication for the pain while testing, and I was out of it. During the night a nurse came into the room to check my vitals.  She asked if I needed more medication, and even though I did, I requested a lighter dose because I felt I needed to have my wits about me.  She obliged after consulting with the doctor.  We got to talking and she was divorced as well, although way younger than me. She had taken a chance on marriage again and was very happy.  We had a little bit of a heart to heart, which I desperately needed.  When she was getting ready to move on, I confided in her that I felt so alone.  She turned and looked me square in the eyes and said, “Oh, you are NEVER alone.” Then she was gone.

That one sentence gave me the confidence I needed because I realized God was always with me. I looked out of the window and up into the sky and saw a brilliant orange moon, which was typical on an oppressively hot August night.  I prayed for my friend who was also in the hospital in the distant state of Indiana living out the last weeks of his life. My heart ached with the thought of how I would miss him when he passed because he had been my father figure, mentor and encourager since I was 19 years old. It was a horribly sad night for me.

I awoke the next morning somewhat renewed.  I luckily had a kind doctor who decided I would not need surgery and treated me instead with a heavy dose of antibiotics in an IV drip.

As I progressively improved, my family came to be with me.  I got stronger, and in a few days was able to leave the hospital. Although I wanted to see and thank the nurse who had helped me through that rough first night, I never saw her again. I still think of her as an angel sent to me.

I began to write down the lessons I learned during that trying period to encourage others who might find themselves going through a similar situation:

  • You are NEVER alone.
  • You can take care of yourself most of the time, but when you need help, asking for it is not a weakness.
  • You can have an infection without a constant fever.
  • Taking a shower with an IV in your arm wrapped in a plastic bag is doable.
  • Ice chips can be a big treat.
  • Clear liquids can be nourishing.
  • You don’t always need heavy-duty pain medication to get by, but can ask for them when needed on demand.
  • Just what the doctor orders is usually best, albeit contrary to what you think should be. Trust.
  • A private hospital room, if you are lucky enough to have one, is awesome.
  • Spending time in a hospital is not the worst thing in the world.
  • Construction outside your hospital window is not always noisy.
  • You don’t need TV to pass the time.
  • People are basically kind and caring.
  • Angels show up when you think you’re alone.
  • A big orange moon can seem like a friend smiling down on you.
  • Cards and flowers are wonderfully uplifting and heart warming to receive but not necessarily needed to make you feel cared about.
  • There are people in the hospital way sicker than you are, so it’s a strength to keep from complaining and pray for them instead.
  • God sends angels to call on you out of the blue.
  • God is always and forever with you.
  • Trust in God and in His goodness in all circumstances.
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Deep Thinking From a Bird Watcher

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A ravaging, late winter storm with the fiercest of winds came along battering and breaking two of my favorite bird feeders. From the place in the sun room where I sit most mornings reading my devotionals and watching the different array of birds feeding, I felt a sudden void. The feeders had to be trashed, and before I could replace them, I watched the birds aimlessly peck at the ground and fly around the empty place they used to feed. Then they seemed to disappear.

IMG_1033Over a week went by before I was able to replace them, but by then the birds seemed to have left town.  I watched the two new colorful feeders from my chair, but the birds were nowhere to be seen.  Maybe they had flown the coop, taking a different route to new places and formed an attachment to a feeder far away. Since watching the birds each morning was very calming and soothing to me, I missed seeing the little sparrows, blue jays, Cardinals, doves and finches frolicking around and having their fill.

 

A few days went by, then a week and more without a sign of any of my feathered friends. The pretty little feeders, filled to the brim with sunflower seed, millet, corn and safflower stood vacant. Were the birds afraid of the new ones?  Had they left for greener pastures? All of this was laid before them, and all they had to do was feast. But they were nowhere to be found.

Then early one morning I looked out and saw a lone sparrow bravely perching on the new feeder.  Before too long another then another flocked nearby and before you knew it, we were back in business. I was finally able to sit back and enjoy the antics of my feathered friends.IMG_1065 (1)

Metaphorically, I couldn’t help but think of the times that opportunities were unknowingly set before me. Full and welcoming and just waiting for me to take that brave leap to try something new, however scary it might have seemed at first. But for one reason or another, I chose to be afraid and apprehensive and decided to disappear to somewhere else, to a different venue that was maybe not as uneasy or causing so much angst. Something more familiar than this something new I wasn’t sure of. If only I had been more courageous, then maybe I wouldn’t have settled for less, missing the feast that was set before me. And in retrospect, I’ve decided to be stronger and more watchful of new circumstances that may come my way under the guise of something unknown or obscure.

…and all of this pondering caused by a tiny bird who chose to be fearless enough to try a new feeder.

 

A FEATHER IN THE WIND

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feather2For most of my life I have felt like a feather in the wind. Like the one in Forrest Gump. The feather that symbolizes destiny and/or dumb blind luck. Forrest muses that maybe it’s a little mixture of both. It seems to point to an accidental kind of life, but it always shows up at just the right time, so maybe destiny brought it there. I ‘m not sure what I believe.

I’ve been blown this way and that way all of my life depending on the shift of air currents.  I, unfortunately, was one who rarely followed anything through to the end, instead giving up or getting bored and catching another breeze shifting me in another direction. At the beginning I set out with grandiosity in mind.  But I wasn’t as assertive or maybe as ambitious as I should have been.  So, instead of forging ahead with my own thoughts about how I wanted my life to play out, I let other people influence me and opposition to get in the way. I let it hold me back until I started to lack the strength to keep moving forward.  Instead I floated, like that proverbial feather, letting the shift of the wind carry me to wherever it happened to go. Obviously that grandiose picture of my life in my own head was not the destiny that was intended for me. Or could it have been different if I tried harder?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been blown to some amazing places in my life, and for the most part, I’m thankful for the experiences I’ve witnessed. I have had much happiness and joy.  It’s just now, during the impending autumn of my life that I feel a restlessness like I didn’t do enough to satisfy myself.  Wait, that’s not exactly true. I have felt restless all of my life. Fact. And currently I’m trying to come to grips with what seems next to impossible to achieve. Is mediocrity all that looms in the distance? If it is, I wish I could be content with just that. As I think back, there were many times in my life that I wish I could have just shot a little lower and been satisfied. But I never was and still am not. I often wonder if this is really it because restlessness overwhelms me and satisfaction eludes me. What will it take to bring me to that place? To bring me to peace?

These are just the things I’m pondering on a gray, rainy day. I’m sure most people contemplate the same at one point in their life or another for reasons different from mine.  There are no answers for the moment, and the contentedness I pray for evades me. Since I just can’t seem to get to that place, I figure that maybe I still have more to reach for even at this late date.

Forrest’s advice (and mine):  Don’t be a feather in the wind.  Take ownership of your life.

Keep reaching for and doing what makes you happy. Just keep running the race.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

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A GOOD ONE

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It’s 11:35 p.m. on June 29, 2016. The last few minutes of my birthday are ticking away.  It’s been a very good birthday. A delicious birthday dinner prepared by my younger daughter, surrounded by my family.  My favorite cake and birthday song as my grandsons sit on my lap and help me to blow out the candles. A day at the beach and swimming at the pool with my daughters and grandsons. Special time together.  Nothing over the top.  Just quiet, happy, precious time together.

Unlike years past when I usually get depressed on my birthday, today I am satisfied. Usually, I’m very good at beating myself up on my natal day with the coulda…woulda…shoulda’s.  You see, I’ve only recently realized that I set my goals way too high at a very early age, and each passing year reminds me of what I didn’t accomplish and never will. Then I look into the future of a very narrow passageway and know that time is running out on the things I used to want to do.

IMG_2095But this year, I’m not thinking too much about the future.  I’m trying just to focus on and enjoy this day and all the joys it is bringing me. I’m trying to live life that way in general.  Just one day at time doing what I can with what I have and not dwelling on loftier things. I’m learning to accept what is instead of beating myself up over what isn’t. I am standing on even ground.

I looked over at my daughters this afternoon as they were watching a video on one of their phones together. They were laughing over something then looked thoughtful over something else. They didn’t know I was watching them. In that moment the thought “you did good” came to mind. Look at what I did. Those two wonderful daughters of mine turned out to be very good people.  Kind and smart and loving and generous and beautiful inside and out.  And I had something to do with that. And that is enough. They are the pride and joy of my life. When I look at them, the need to do more, be more, have more vanishes.  And when my twin grandsons run to me and greet me like I’m a rock star with their gleeful smiles screaming, “Mimi, Mimi!” I know there is nothing better in this world.

As I drove home tonight, I was thinking that this year my birthday is different.  This year I am happy. I yearn for nothing in this moment.  Sure, life has not been easy.  Who has an easy life? And many dreams did not come true.  So what? How many people live a fairy tale life? But the fact that my family loves me enough to plan a special day to celebrate my birth – well, how great is that?! And what more of a dream come true could there be?IMG_1193

It’s 12:17 a.m.,  June 30th.  My birthday is over for another year. I re-read my cards and come across one from my 88 year-old (ex) mother-in-law, who still thinks of me as her daughter, and it reads, “Sweetest Birthday Wishes to You….May each moment of your birthday be filled with the sweetest memories.” At the bottom of the card she writes, I like to remember the good ones, I hope you do, too.  I love you!  Mom

 This was a good one. I’ll remember and cherish it forever.

 

 

Juror No. 4

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juryYou receive your notice in the mail for jury duty. I can hear the heavy sigh. I imagine that’s what most of us do when the summons arrives. “How can I get out of this,” is probably the next question going through your mind. ARGHHH!!! I just don’t have time for this!!!

But I have no good enough reason; so on the appointed day, after three days of checking the website to see if my number came up, I am summoned to report. It was a bright, sunny summer morning as I waited to go through the security check at the entrance of the courthouse. Too nice to be here. I’ll just get this jury duty thing over with and then I can get on with the rest of summer, I think. I walked down the hall and waited in line to be checked in and then was seated in a room that resembled a holding pen with about a couple hundred people. Some looked bored; others nervous and a few annoyed as they read, drank coffee and looked down at their phones. I am people watching and imagining their stories. Everyone is now known by a number which they were assigned, and we are called by such and lined up to be taken to the courtroom upstairs. This first group seems to be about 50 strong. As we enter the courtroom, I’m thinking it resembles a movie set. I’m a little excited because I’m always looking for the drama!

As we sit on the benches, the judge asks if there is anyone who feels they cannot serve, and most of the hands in the room go up. Then he asks for a show of hands of those who feel they can serve. There are maybe 12 of us left that are willing. There is a lot of tension in the room, and people are stressed awaiting their turn to be questioned on why they think they cannot serve. They are individually taken to a sidebar and questioned while annoying “white noise” is played in the courtroom so the conversations can’t be heard. For this particular case, they have already gone through one day of selection, and at the moment, there are eight jurors in the box and nine are needed for this case. Oh good, I think. They’re only looking for one more person, so I doubt I’ll even be questioned. Once they’ve weeded out the nays, they start calling the yays one number at a time.

The judge asks a series of questions to the potential juror. Then the person has to tell a little about themselves… age, schooling, job, family members and what they do, leisure activities, where they get their news, etc. Some are interesting and funny; some are boring. After the “getting to know you” dissertation, the person is brought for a sidebar where the judge and the five attorneys surround you. The white noise is played, and another series of more probing questions are asked that will determine your views on certain subjects that regard the case. Based on all of this, you are either excused or asked to take a seat in the jurors’ box.

Randomly, people seated are dismissed and another juror is chosen. All the same questions, the white noise, more questions, seated or not. Over and over. I get even more nervous than I already am. The selection is down to four people then three then two. I get called. Oh no. I sit in the vacated seat in the box fidgeting as the questions are read. No, no, no, no, yes, yes, yes. On it goes. Then I have to stand and tell about myself. I don’t think my life is all that interesting, but as I talk, I see some smiles and nodding, so maybe they like what I’m saying? Is it funny? Is it not? Who knows?! I am motioned to the notorious sidebar as the judge and lawyers gather round. Being surrounded by this many kind of handsome men makes me nervous, and I start to sweat. The judge asks some difficult questions. I find myself at times losing my train of thought. Their eyes are piercing. I ask the judge to repeat a very long three-part question. One lawyer repeats what I have answered. Did I really say that? Yikes, they really are listening and taking notes. In the end I am seated as Juror No. 4. They must have liked something I said, only I don’t have a clue what it could be since I felt like a babbling idiot.

A jury member remarks that we should not be nervous…the plaintiff and the defendant should be nervous because we have their future in our hands. What a thought. I mean, who am I to be determining the fate of these people? Why am I seated as a juror? I just don’t know. I don’t know what they are looking for. I would imagine everyone else is thinking the same thing. We watch the same process unfold over and over again. There is only one original juror left that was chosen on the first day. I can only describe the picking and choosing as a brilliant game of chess.

Then the judge makes a poignant statement. He says that besides serving in the military, serving as a juror is probably the next most important thing you can do for your country. With that having been said, my whole perspective changes. Suddenly, I am not nervous anymore. I am proud to be there and want to serve. I actually feel honored to be chosen. The day drags on with the same process, questioning, choices and dismissals. At the end of the day, another juror is dismissed leaving a vacant seat. We are eight and need a ninth. It’s very tiring, but at the end of the day, I’m still Juror No. 4 and holding.

Monday arrives with a whole new selection pool. The judge says that the selection would be over today, and the trial’s opening arguments would be presented in the afternoon. So today could be my first actual day of jury duty, or it could be the last. I am “in the box” at the moment as opposed to “on the benches” with those awaiting selection. We sit through the questioning again and again. Finally, in the afternoon, there are 9 jurors. The lawyer representing the defendant stands and says they are satisfied with this jury. It looks like I’m in! I’ll be Juror No. 4 for this trial. Then the two lawyers from the plaintiff’s side start conferring. They look the jury over and over and whisper to one another. I wonder if I’ll be the next to go. Then they look at me and then down at their notes. I stare at them, and they look away. Uh-oh. One stands and dismisses me. What?!?! But I want to serve, I think to myself! I’m one of the ones who want to serve! The lawyers thank me for my service. The judge thanks me as well. They are very sincere in their appreciation for those who have responded to the call. I nod and say that it has been a pleasure as I awkwardly climb over the other jurors making my way to the door. I look back one more time and smile. It would have been so cool to be a part of this case. Oh well. I walk down the hall to the exit kind of bummed. Another time; another place…like in three years when you are up again.

The thing is, though, if you get chosen for jury duty, change your perspective and just do it. It’s painless, and it’s an excellent way to serve your country. The alternative, as in a lot of other countries, is that a dictator determines your fate instead of your peers. And what if you were put in the position of needing to go on trial for one reason or another and had a bunch of people making up lame excuses to get out of it? By serving your jury duty, you are keeping our democracy strong…by the people and for the people and all that. So just do it!

OLD FRIENDS

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Old Friends

like bottles cast out to sea

in time, though lost

and tossed

and searching

somehow always find their way to shore again.

 

Memories are too strong

bittersweet years

filled with laughter and tears

they live on.

 

Years pass…yet time stands still

Everyone grows…yet nothing has changed

You turn around and yesterday’s child is still there

the people the same

the warmth alive

the love aglow

and I’m thankful to know

that the good memories outweigh the bad

and the happy times more than the sad are remembered.

 

As life goes on and people fade in and out

I realize more and more

that the oldest friends are the dearest

and the times we shared the most cherished

and our lives together

have only mellowed and aged

like fine vintage wine.

GYPSY SOUL

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How many of you were gypsies/bohemians/hippies way back when?  You know, the ones who hopped in their VW bugs in the 70’s and drove to California to find themselves? Yeah, me, too. What were we looking for; what did we find?! 

Bux1fMwCAAAJt1xSearching…searching…searching. My soul has always been looking for something.  Always been hard to settle. It was like a petulant child who would not, could not sit still. I got bored easily and was always searching for something I never ever found.  Never content. Never satisfied. Thinking I could always do more and would not allow myself to be stuck in something boring, boring, boring. My search was always about finding excitement and meaning and, of course, adventure.

I wanted to be an actress, a singer, a dancer, a writer. I was so sure I was going to “make it!” I wanted to play the piano and the guitar and write songs and become a famous troubadour. (unlike a matador!) I studied acting and dancing in Princeton and New York; roamed the streets of New York looking for work; went to California hoping to be “discovered” and ended up doing no more than community theatre. Then I half learned to play the piano (without ever owning one) but wasn’t half bad on a guitar I did own.  I was always writing songs…sending them out…they are forever lost in space. I wrote two novels and countless short stories submitting and receiving rejection letter after rejection letter. Although I did have some success in publishing…only not enough to even pay for groceries. It was disheartening and disappointing. After awhile I guess I just lost my edge.

I am so much older now.  But not much wiser. Life has set me back a little. I still dream way too much and am ever hopeful for things I’m not sure I’ll ever realize. These days, it seems the only searching I do is for my glasses. And that restless soul has been quieted somewhat by writing about it like this or having a glass of my favorite “beverage” like that.  I still dream of living in Topanga Canyon with Keith Carradine (don’t ask). But even the ever-so-cool Keith has laid down his guitar, cut his hair and put on a suit in the name of an acting job. So it is a good thing, I guess.

I would still like my books and articles to be published so I can stop living hand to mouth.imageIn the meantime to look at me, you’d never guess that underneath it all is a latent hippie with modified bell bottoms, a needlepoint gauze top (which I still own) and love beads listening to Loggins and Messina, Dan Fogelberg and the Eagles. I may seem like an ordinary, mellow, middle-aged person who has come to terms with life.  But the fact is, I haven’t. I still host an assortment of daily dreams. And I kind of know that one day I will still buy a yellow convertible VW bug and ride up the coast of California, although I’ve developed a fear of heights, and the cliffs might prove to be a bit daunting. No matter, dreams are necessary for simple survival…part of the plan. And they are still all there underneath the appearance of an older, wiser me.